How long does it take to get an income tax refund?



Three months have passed since the last late of filing individual tax returns, which was 31st of July. Many of us who applied for a tax refund have already got it, and some are still waiting, and a few may have to wait longer or may not get the refund at all. The general tendency is to blame the Income Tax Department – calling it a typical Indian public sector organization, inefficient, slow, lacking professionalism etc. While this may have been somewhat true in the past, it is not the case today, with the new online version of Income tax India introduced a few years ago.

There could be several reasons why your friends and relatives have received their refunds and you are still waiting.

How long does it take to get a refund after filing?

Though there is no standard time frame, the refund process starts as soon as Income tax authorities finish verifying the details of the filed return. I know people who have got it as early as 6 weeks, but on an average it takes about 4 months.

  • Refund could be faster for returns that are filed electronically. E-filing has anyway been made mandatory for anyone with an income of Rs 5 Lakhs and above.
  • Those who have opted for direct ECS credit will get the refund faster than those who have opted for cheque payment.
  • If the refund amount applied for is more than Rs. 25,000/- , it is subject to IT scrutiny, and may take longer.

Discrepancies/mistakes made during income tax filing which could cause delay in processing –

  • The amount claimed as refund by you does not match the records of the income tax authorities as per the 26 AS statement.
  • Incorrect or incomplete bank a/c details (account no, MICR Code etc.) mentioned for the credit of refund.
  • ITR V acknowledgement copy not sent to CPC on time.
  • Other errors in claiming credit under sections like 80 G – Incorrect donee PAN or name etc.

How to check and understand the status of the tax refund –

The status of the tax refund can be checked in two ways – either by logging on to the income tax portal or through the following website –, where the assessment year and PAN number needs to be specified. Some of the common statuses that are displayed are –

Refund paid – It has been paid either by ECS or cheque, as specified by you. If it has not been received, State Bank of India, the refund banker can be contacted at

Refund Unpaid – This means that either the ECS details are wrong or for those opting for cheque payout, the cheque was undelivered due to wrong address. The procedure to be followed here is to logon to the income tax e-filing portal, rectify the information and place a “refund re-issue request” under the “My Account “option.

Not determined – The return is yet to be verified/refund is yet to be processed. Wait.

Demand determined – This means that the income tax department found your tax refund request erroneous/inaccurate, and hence has rejected it, and you owe them taxes instead which now have to be paid. This could be because genuinely the refund is not payable to you, or due to errors in filling in the relevant sections in the ITR Form. In the latter case, a rectification request can be filed online, and the income tax authorities will respond in a month’s time.


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